What do you ask when the sales call stalls?

Guest Post by Bryan Flanagan

It happens to all of us. The sales call is proceeding well. You establish rapport. You ask questions, the prospect answers the questions. You identify several specific needs. The prospect confirms those needs are important. The call is going well … until it doesn’t. 

At some point in the conversation, the call stops, stalls, slows down, or takes a different turn. What do you ask in order to move it back on track? The following technique has worked very well for me. It can be used at various stages of the Sales P.R.O.C.E.S.S. It can be used to transition to the Sell the Solution stage, which is the presentation stage. It can be used to re-focus the prospect on the needs that have been uncovered. It can also be used for the close. This technique is versatile!

It consists of a strong statement followed by a stronger question.

Here is an example:

The strong statement: “Mr. Prospect, based on what we’ve discussed thus far, I’m confident we can solve this problem.”

Which you then immediately follow up with the strong question: “My question is, how do I transfer that confidence to you?”

By asking the question, you begin to move the conversation along. You re-engage the prospect and his/her answer gives you direction on where to go next.

You can vary the wording if you choose:

Strong statement: “Ms. Prospect, I’m certain we can help you with this concern.”

Strong question: “How do I transfer that certainty to you?”

What type response would you typically receive by asking the question? I generally get three standard replies:

  1. “Who else have you done work with in our industry?”
  2. “How can we see [your product/service] in action?” (In essence this is a request to ‘audition’ or provide some sort of demo or trial.)
  3. “Put it in writing.”

In the past few months, I’ve received a fourth reply: ‘Let’s look at your calendar.’ When the prospect says this, he is closing the sale for me. Since my inventory is my calendar days, when he asks for a specific date for the training, he is actually closing the sale himself! I personally love it when this happens!

Does this work? Only if you do. You must use it at the appropriate time in the sales conversation. However, I found in many cases, this tactic re-starts the conversation and places the call back on track. As with any other tactic, it also requires practice. Be prepared for the prospect’s answer. You should rehearse your responses. Remember: preparation compensates for a lack of talent, or at least preparation compensates for surprises.

 Bryan Flanagan


Bryan Flanagan is a trainer, speaker, coach and active participant in one of the noblest helping professions – sales. His career has included IBM and 32 years with Zig Ziglar. For the past three decades, he has been honored to develop sales people among countless industries across the globe. After 3,628,807 miles, 4,670 engagements, and training over 745,144 Bryan still believes that, armed with the right skills and attitude, anyone can learn to sell.  You can connect with Bryan @ FlanaganTraining.com


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